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“Where Are You Really From?” – A Simple Question with a Big Impact

#BECAUSEIAM social campaign highlights ESPN's Asian-American employees and the athletes they cover

“Where are you really from?”

It’s a seemingly simple question that many Americans of color, particularly Asian Americans, will hear on repeat throughout their lives.

Genta Nakahara, creative director with ESPN Creative Works, pointed toward a line from former Creative Works writer Asya Peña: “Being American is still framed through only one cultural lens, and in that lens, it’s Jack and Jill, not Jun and José.”

He and ESPN’s Asian-American Employee Resource Group, ARISE, developed the #BECAUSEIAM social campaign, highlighting the diverse talent of ESPN and some of the athletes we cover. The goal is simple: broaden the narrative of who is American, using a person’s name as the vehicle.

ESPN writer Joon Lee, BMW racecar driver Samantha Tan, ESPN NBA writer Ohm Youngmisuk, and NCAA softball player Jocelyn Alo are a few of those lending their stories, names and faces to the #BECAUSEIAM campaign.

I asked Genta what success looks like to him for the #BECAUSEIAM project. “All the feedback we’ve received has been so positive. For participants, it’s affirmation, and it’s the shared experience, the sense of empathy and community – I am American and I belong here,” he said.

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